Martial—who has earned comparisons to France legend Henry—got on the scoresheet in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at home to Norwich City. But Arsenallegend Henry questioned why his compatriot was fielded on the wing duringSky Sports‘ Monday Night Football:
What are you doing here? I actually do not know what he is doing there. He should be there [in the penalty area], having a one versus one, scoring and celebrating. Is it fear? Is it because they have been brainwashed a bit too much? I just don’t get it.
They wanted a guy who scored goals. They wanted a guy to run in behind fast. He came in and did that. Suddenly now he finds himself out there, almost not touching the ball. I think if I had a player like that, he would be my No 9 and the rest are around him.
Restricting Martial to playing out wide has been one of the tactical decisions that has left fans scratching their heads at Old Trafford, considering the Frenchman was brought in from Monaco to provide goals.
Martial instantly did that with a dream start to life in the Premier League and a run of four goals in his first three games for the club, a streak that might convince any manager of his scoring potential as a No. 9.
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And yet, Van Gaal has insisted upon utilising club captain Wayne Rooney as the focal point of his attack, with the Englishman’s return standing at two goals in 13 Premier League games this season.
Ex-Scotland midfielder Don Hutchison has also asked why Martial hasn’t been handed more opportunities in the centre of attack, clearly of the understanding he’s United’s biggest threat:
The debate over Martial hasn’t helped United’s poor run of late, failing to win any of their last six games and losing the last three in succession, intensifying some calls for the club to pursue Mourinho.
In his time at the beginning at Chelsea, if you remember, with Robben and Duff on the sides, and Gudjohnsen in the middle, then Didier Drogba arriving after, they were a good team going forward. They weren’t conceding goals, they were hitting you on the break, but they were kind of exciting going forward.
He also won the league in Spain outscoring Barcelona – the Barcelona of [Pep] Guardiola. So I think that he can be a good fit.
Van Gaal was also highly spoken of prior to his arrival at United 18 months ago, having placed third at the 2014 World Cup with the Netherlands and boasting one of the most decorated resumes in Europe.
However, his reputation has fallen at the Theatre of Dreams, and Chelsea’s horror campaign also shows even the biggest names can stumble. Jamie Carragher offered counter-points as to why he thinks Mourinho would be a bad fit for the Red Devils, per Evans:
If I think of Man United in the past 50 or 60 years of what they’re about, winning trophies, Jose massively ticks that box. But bringing through young players? No.
Playing exciting football, cultured football, going for every game? He doesn’t tick that box either.
It’s a difficult time at Old Trafford considering Van Gaal still has 18 months remaining on his current contract, butBBC Sport confirmed the tactician is “worried” following Saturday’s embarrassment against the Canaries.
However, Mourinho will not go behind the back of his former Barcelona mentor, according to Sport Witness, who claimed he won’t agree a deal while Van Gaal is still at the Old Trafford helm:
Manchester United are at a crossroads where any change might offer what appears to be improvement, but both Henry and Carragher offer up valid points as to why Mourinho may or may not be a United success.
For now, the English giants battle on with Van Gaal as their leader, and pressure is building ahead of a crunch clash at Stoke City on Boxing Day that could greatly impact the manager’s future at the club.